This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible and one I return to often when I need a reminder about the graciousness and kindness of Jesus which, let’s be honest, is all the time.
This unnamed woman had been bleeding for twelve years and no one could help her. She went to the best doctors available and no one was able to help her. She was sick with no hope of a cure.
Can you just imagine if you were this woman in that moment?
News spread around your community of this guy named Jesus who was going around and healing people. You are cut off from close relationships with others because of the religious laws and you had spent all of your money on a cure that never materialized. Your body is rebelling against you and you’re powerless to stop it—everything you try ends in futility. You’ve lost hope and are sure things are as good as they’re going to get. But there’s something different about these rumors that are spreading. Your interest is piqued. You want to know more.
So you do something daring: you leave your house and step out into a crowd of people. You risk being ostracized and ridiculed because of your condition. You risk the judgment you will undoubtedly feel when others see you. But if he heals you, it’ll all be worth it, so it’s a risk that has to be taken.
This unnamed woman’s faith created an unscheduled stop.
I appreciate that this woman wasn’t an announced stop on Jesus’s agenda, he was actually on his way to perform another miracle. But Jesus took the time for her. He loved this woman who had been overlooked by society, hurt by religious institutions, and who was in an understandably desperate state. He loved her just as much as the young girl that he would eventually raise to life a few verses later at the end of the chapter. He wasn’t too concerned with his mission to stop to spend time with her—she was his mission too.
This courageous woman took the risk, bit the bullet, and when she touched Jesus’s rob a miracle happened—she was healed!
“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”” Mark 5:30-34 (NIV)
This woman was willing to step out in faith and pursue the Lord way outside of her comfort zone. She wasn’t satisfied with the status quo and went to the one person who could change that for her. It can be so easy to grow accustomed and comfortable to our sickness and dysfunction and it’s terrifying to leave it. But when we come to the Lord with open arms and a measure of belief, he welcomes us, loves us, and reminds us who we are.
We aren’t defined by the things we are doing or have done, but we are defined by who we are in Jesus.
Before her encounter with him, she was defined by her disease. But Jesus changed her identity from “sick” to “daughter”. And he does the same for us.
This woman’s life didn’t become perfect after this encounter with Jesus—she had a lot to overcome after this. She had to undo twelve years of finding her identity in her illness. She had to integrate back into society somehow and rebuild relationships that probably fizzled out over her years of isolation and separation. And the same is true for us: pursuing the Lord is a daily decision that we can make over the course of our lives. Salvation is the beginning as we embark on our own journeys of allowing God to heal us of our sicknesses and restore our identities.
It can be so easy to become content in our illness, but Jesus has called us to so much more. He loves us and is willing and able to heal us, just like the woman with the issue of blood. I pray today that we have the courage and faith as this unnamed woman did to pursue God in the midst of discomfort and doubt.
Is there any area that you struggle to step out in faith?
How do you intentionally accept who Jesus says you are?